I decided to start things off right with a cute dish towel my Gramie made as a wedding present for me and my husband. She has been sewing forever, and her talents have given us little treasures all over our house. We have embroidered dish towels, pot holders, quilts, placemats, and table runners. The beautiful quilted trees in the background of my Buche de Noel pictures are some of her handiwork. And since we haven't gotten any snow this winter, this happy snowman will have to do. But on to the main event...
But the true magic of these buns is that you can fill them with whatever you like! Ground pork, sausage, a vegetable medley, the possibilities are endless. The dough is not flavored, so it remains a perfect neutral playing ground for your imagination. At Christmas I made buns stuffed with a mixture of chicken, black garlic, cilantro, lime, and green onions.
In fact, why not throw a steamed bun party? Have everyone bring a different filling and mix-and-match to your hearts desire. It's like a homemade pizza party but without the disappointment of not being able to have a wood burning oven in your tiny apartment.
Chinese Steamed Buns from All You Knead is Bread by Jane Mason
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
3/4 cups water
1.5 teaspoons salt
Place flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle and add the yeast. Pour 1/2 a cup of the water over the yeast and let sit for about 15 min. After the time has elapsed, add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Pour dough out onto an unfloured surface and knead for 10 min. Once the dough comes together, throw it back into the bowl and cover. Let sit and rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
If you are going to stuff the buns, prepare your filling now. It should be cooled down by the time you need to stuff them.
Once your dough has risen, take it out of the bowl and divide it into ten different pieces. If you are not stuffing them, roll the dough into balls and set onto individual pieces of parchment paper squares. Let rise for another hour before steaming.
If you are stuffing the buns, take the ten pieces and roll them into balls, then roll out to 1/4 inch thick rounds. Place your stuffing in the center and pinch to close. I am rubbish at getting my buns closed nicely, but this video from The Woks of Life might inspire some of you to pinching greatness.
Place each stuffed bun on a individual square of parchment paper and let rise for another hour.
Place buns comfortably in a steamer either over simmering water on the stove or in a rice cooker. Buns are done when a tester comes out of them clean.